Capital Investment Advisors

#9 – All Aboard! The Happy Retirement Train at the Santa Barbara Zoo

This past summer, my wife and I took our son to the Santa Barbara Zoo, about two hours north of Los Angeles. The featured attraction is a miniature train that runs the perimeter. The train conductors act as tour guides, animal advocates, and stand-up comedians. My happy retiree radar was beeping like crazy, and it turned out to be accurate. So, a few months later, I returned to the zoo with all my recording equipment and caught them in action.

In his primary working years, train conductor Pete Georgi was the co-owner of the Santa Barbara Insurance Agency and President of the Board of the Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara. Andy Liepman spent 30 years at the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and ended up as the Deputy Director of the US National Counterterrorism Center.

But now, they’re just two guys who wear overalls and drive a miniature train. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Read The Full Transcript From This Episode

(click below to expand and read the full interview)

  • Pete [00:00:01]:I’m at the front gate with an interview for Pete and Andy.Ryan Doolittle [00:00:05]:This summer, my wife and I took our son to the Santa Barbara Zoo. It’s a beautiful zoo, beautiful city. It’s about 2 hours north of Los Angeles, and one of the best attractions of the zoo is this train that runs around the perimeter. Shows you a bunch of animals, and even better than that is a train conductor who gives you all kinds of animal facts and even tell some jokes. Now, I got to tell you, I love dad jokes. And that’s what these jokes were. So while my wife’s groaning, I’m loving it. And I just had this feeling.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:00:38]:

    I think this guy might be a happy retiree. So after the tour, I asked him, and he confirmed it. And not only that, he said, but his fellow train conductor was also a happy retiree. So a couple months later back, I came with all my recording equipment, and we sat down to talk about it. Pete Georgie is the former co owner of the Santa Barbara Insurance Agency. He’s also the former president of the board of the carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara. And funny story, at both locations, he ran into pop superstar Katy Perry. In fact, he took a selfie with her, with her husband, Orlando Bloom, and it ended up in the National Enquirer.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:01:16]:

    Go figure. Andy Leapman spent 30 years at the CIA, that’s the Central Intelligence Agency, and eventually ended up the deputy director of the US National Counterterrorism center. But now they’re just two guys who wear overalls and drive a miniature train. And that’s exactly who they want to be. Do you ever wonder who you’ll be and what you’ll do after your career is over? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear stories from people who figured it out who are thriving in retirement? I’m Ryan Doolittle. After working with the retire sooner team for years and researching and writing about how they structure their lifestyles, I know there’s more to be learned. So I’m going straight to the source and taking you with me. My mission with the Happiest Retirees podcast is to inspire 1 million families to find happiness in retirement.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:02:07]:

    I want to learn how to live an exceptional life from people who do it every day. Let’s get started.

    Pete [00:02:16]:

    Well, good afternoon, and welcome to the center of our zoo railroad. My name is Pete, and I’ll be your engineer, assisted by engineer Andy and Clayton. We are about to take a little journey around the 30 acre perimeter of our zoo, and I ask that you please remain seated and keep your arms and legs inside. The train at all times.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:02:33]:

    Okay. Welcome to the Happiest Retirees podcast. I’m your host, Ryan Doolittle. I’m at the Santa Barbara Zoo today, and two all stars of the Santa Barbara Zoo are here. But we also have Andy and Peter. Yeah. Thank you, Pete. Wait, Pete? You go by Pete, not Peter.

    Pete [00:02:48]:

    I go by anything.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:02:49]:

    Anything. Okay. Andy, how long you been working at the zoo?

    Andy [00:02:53]:

    I’ve been affiliated with the zoo for about seven years. I was a volunteer for four as a keeper’s aide. And I’ve been driving the train for almost three years now.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:03]:

    Almost three years. Okay. And what did you do before?

    Andy [00:03:06]:

    Before that, I worked at the Rand corporation, which is a think tank in Santa Monica. And before that, for about 30 some years, I worked as an analyst at the CIA.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:17]:

    As in central.

    Andy [00:03:19]:

    The Central Intelligence organization. Right.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:22]:

    And you started as a GS six?

    Andy [00:03:25]:

    Seven. So I graduated from Cal with a degree in forestry. I was a very bad student. I actually didn’t know for sure I would graduate until I saw my diploma. I worked for a logging company for a couple of years, cruising timber and as part of logging crews. Then I got married, moved back to Washington with my wife, who is much better student and actually had ambitions. And she got a job with the defense department and I applied for CIA, got the job and was hired as a GS seven. And everything else is sort of history.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:04:06]:

    Well, you went and you went all the way up the ladder to. Where did you end up?

    Andy [00:04:10]:

    I did. So I started as a seven. My salary then was 15,000 a year. No, I ended up as the deputy director of the National Counterterrorism center. It was an organization formed after 911, and it was our job to coordinate counterterrorism activities in the government and also to serve as the president and the congress’s primary advisor on counterterrorism. So I saw the president pretty often. Either I or the director would brief the president during times of high threat. Once a week, every other week.

    Andy [00:04:46]:

    I did it about once a month. When the director wasn’t there, I was his deputy and spent a lot of time on the Hill, as we said, briefing Congress, the Senate and the House and various committees. So it was a pretty high stress environment. Not quite as bad as driving the train, but I would say comparable.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:06]:

    Pete, so now you worked in the CAA, I think you told me you were in the army.

    Pete [00:05:11]:

    I was in the army, and I spent two years active, a year in Korea and a year in Fort Wachuka, Arizona. And then I spent eleven more years in the army reserve and National Guard.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:23]:

    Oh, okay. So you were born and raised in Santa Barbara?

    Pete [00:05:28]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:28]:

    And still live there. Me. Because you were telling me what you do and did, and you do so many things that I had to say. Well, how were you doing that while you were still working? What was your primary career?

    Pete [00:05:43]:

    Well, after I got out of the army, I had the opportunity to buy the Santa Barbara Insurance Agency from my father, who was ready to sell in 1981. He was ready to retire at age 62, and I had been working with him going when I was going to Santa Barbara City College before I moved on to the University of San Francisco. So I knew the business, and none of my siblings were interested in the business, so he offered it to me, and in 1981, I made the purchase and bought the business and ran the insurance agency until my retirement last year on July 1. 41 years.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:19]:

    How many years?

    Pete [00:06:19]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:20]:


    Pete [00:06:21]:

    Thank you. And in the meantime, I also served in a volunteer role as the president of the carriage museum here in Santa Barbara, which is a well known museum. It’s the largest collection of wagons and carriages and saddlery west of the Mississippi. And just last year, I stepped down as president of that January 1. So I’m now just a board member, so I’m kind of positioning myself so I can have a little more free time.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:45]:

    If I were ever a board member, I wouldn’t define it as just a board member. That sounds pretty important. And you were there 30 years, and some of that was while you were still working?

    Pete [00:06:54]:

    Yes. It was a volunteer position, but it took a lot of time, and we only have one employee at the carriage museum, and it was easy to oversee that. But when you’re on any nonprofit, your role is really to find money and to keep your museum up and operating.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:10]:

    Yeah. Okay, so you have ten siblings?

    Pete [00:07:13]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:13]:

    Are you one of the ten?

    Pete [00:07:15]:

    I make number ten. I have seven brothers and two sisters.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:18]:

    Okay. And you also have ten cars?

    Pete [00:07:21]:

    I do.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:22]:


    Pete [00:07:22]:

    I’m a car enthusiast, too.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:24]:

    Which one do you love more, the cars or the siblings?

    Pete [00:07:26]:

    Oh, well, that’s a toss up. I have a GTO that I’m pretty fond of, but I also love my sisters.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:33]:

    Okay. The sisters more than the brothers.

    Pete [00:07:36]:

    We fought a lot when we were kids. My sisters were pretty good.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:39]:

    So I met Pete here at the zoo. I came with my wife and son a couple months ago, and he was conducting one of the tours, and he has such good jokes. I asked him to be on the show, so I want to find out. Let’s start back with Andy. How did you end up here?

    Andy [00:07:57]:

    So I knew I was going to retire, sort of, after 30 some years in the government. One of the best things about government service is you can retire early, get a full pension. My wife’s brother runs direct relief. It’s a big nonprofit here in Sanibar. In fact, I think the biggest in the county. They provide medical equipment to disaster areas. And we come here for Christmas, visiting pretty often, and thought if we could actually afford it on two government pensions, what a great place to retire. So we looked around and we found a house.

    Andy [00:08:30]:

    And about three months after I retirees, we moved out here. I was working for Rand, so they were quite generous in providing house hunting trips, and they put us up in Santa Monica for a while. And I worked there for five or six years after I retired. But we settled in Santa Barbara pretty quickly. We knew we’d like it here, and we now consider ourselves Santa Barbarans.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:52]:

    Okay, is that the term Santa Barbarans?

    Pete [00:08:54]:


    Andy [00:08:55]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:55]:

    And you were commuting to Santa Monica while you were still working?

    Andy [00:08:58]:

    I was.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:59]:

    2 hours.

    Andy [00:09:01]:

    One of my retirement presents. The retirement present I gave myself was a pretty fast Audi. And when I hit my third speeding ticket to Santa Monica, I had to tell myself I couldn’t afford this anymore.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:14]:


    Andy [00:09:14]:

    Now I started driving carefully.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:16]:


    Andy [00:09:16]:

    And that road is so amazing between here and Santa Monica.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:21]:

    Oh, you would take the one along pch every time. Yeah. Okay.

    Andy [00:09:25]:

    Every time I had a chance. Your podcast is about retiring, right?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:29]:

    It is, yeah.

    Andy [00:09:29]:

    So the biggest lesson I learned about the retirement issue is to figure out how much you actually need and then stop making money. Once you realize, you know what? I can live pretty comfortably. I might have to cut some corners, but life is a whole lot better when you stop going to work every single day for 810, 12 hours a day. And I certainly spend a lot of time enjoying myself. I spend 20 hours a week here at the zoo, and pretty much all the time is fun. I volunteer a lot.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:02]:

    Even when Pete’s around, it’s still fun.

    Pete [00:10:04]:

    We enjoy each other’s company.

    Andy [00:10:06]:

    We do enjoy each other. We kid each other a have. If you drew venn diagrams of our general life outlook political, there would be no overlap. But we still like each other.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:18]:

    That’s all right. Yeah, there’s no overlap. But there is love.

    Andy [00:10:22]:

    There is a lot of love.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:23]:


    Pete [00:10:24]:

    I don’t know about that.

    Andy [00:10:25]:

    We have to control ourselves in public.

    Pete [00:10:27]:


    Andy [00:10:28]:

    But no. I’ve always loved animals. Ever since I was a little kid. I was interested in birds. I would read bird books. There’s the zoo’s number one bird expert. She is an amazing keeper. She was my mentor when I started volunteering.

    Andy [00:10:48]:

    Really? Her name is Ellie. She knows more about condors, which is a beautiful bird, than probably anyone you’ve ever or will ever meet.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:58]:

    Really? Yeah.

    Andy [00:10:58]:

    And she’s amazing. She understands birds. So I learned a lot. I learned from her after leading an organization of 2000 people. It was actually great fun to be the lowest person on the totem pole.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:14]:

    Okay, that’s interesting.

    Andy [00:11:15]:

    Do nothing. I would say, what poop do you want me to clean? I would go in there with a hose. And it was actually great. It was great not being in charge of anything.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:26]:

    Well, that was a question I had because you both were so high up in your careers, and then you come in retirement here, and like you said, your mentor, she’s probably in her 20s or something, right?

    Andy [00:11:38]:

    Yeah, she’s 30s.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:39]:

    Okay, so that wasn’t strange. That was actually really great.

    Andy [00:11:44]:

    Oh, it was fantastic.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:45]:


    Andy [00:11:46]:

    I didn’t have to write personnel evaluations. I didn’t have to decide who got bonuses and who didn’t get a bonus. My biggest decision was which otter got this piece of fish. Occasionally I will say when I see something that I think I could run this better, I have to really resist that urge. I’m not in charge, and I realize it’s.

    Pete [00:12:14]:

    And I have the same issue. I got to just kind of let it go. As we well know, I’m a clean person, a clean fanatic, as Andy says. And I like everything to look its best. With the help of Andy and others, I’m becoming messier.

    Andy [00:12:31]:

    There’s a big difference. So Pete ran his own firm. You had 100% say about working in the government. You never have 100% of anything. Yeah, I had to spend a lot of time negotiating and compromising, so it’s a little bit less hard. But I ran things.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:12:52]:


    Andy [00:12:52]:

    And here I run nothing, which you were.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:12:55]:

    You almost consider that a promotion, right?

    Andy [00:12:58]:

    For sure.

    Pete [00:12:58]:

    He’s more relaxed and enjoying himself.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:00]:


    Pete [00:13:01]:

    And he runs a great train right there.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:03]:


    Andy [00:13:03]:

    Yeah, yeah, I’m in charge of the train when I’m the we all. So you noticed that Pete and I have very different approaches to the train. I’m a little bit more data rich, and he’s a little bit more humorous. All the other drivers have their own personalities, and nobody tells the other driver. You can’t say that. Other than some erroneous thing about an animal.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:27]:


    Andy [00:13:28]:

    As long as we stick to the general truths, we can do whatever we want.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:34]:

    Well, Pete, tell me a little bit about the train. Just so the audience. So there’s a train that goes around the Santa Barbara zoo.

    Pete [00:13:41]:

    Well, this zoo was opened in 1963, and I believe the train opened up five years later in 1968. And it was formed and created by the local nonprofits and service organizations here in Santa Barbara. Like the Kiwanis and the JCs and the lions, they helped build the track, they helped form this train. And then the zoo made the purchase of the train and have been keeping it up ever since. So it’s been running for years and years, and it’s a wonderful train. It’s probably the number one draw here at the zoo. Yeah, I know that this train makes over a million dollars a year for the zoo.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:18]:

    Does it really?

    Pete [00:14:18]:

    Yes, it does.

    Andy [00:14:21]:

    I think we’ve come close to a million a few years. Last year, two years ago, was our biggest, which was just exactly a million.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:28]:


    Andy [00:14:29]:

    So we had a big celebration on the train.

    Pete [00:14:33]:

    And so the train, the kids love it, and it’s their favorite here in the zoo. And it’s a big part of the zoo. And we’re proud to be one of the ten drivers that are driving the train. And we love it. And we wouldn’t be here if we.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:44]:

    Didn’T really enjoy ourselves on the Happiest Retirees podcast. And I’m part of the retire sooner network. My boss has a show called Retire Sooner, Wes Moss. So we’ve done a lot of research, and we always try to find out what retirees prefer or what they love doing in retirement. And one of the top ones is always volunteering for the happy ones. Right. And I know you’re now technically employees. That was maybe you had to be in order to drive the train, but you started as volunteers, right?

    Andy [00:15:15]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:15:16]:

    And so do you find volunteering is one of your favorite activities? We call them core pursuits. Like hobbies on steroids, kind of.

    Pete [00:15:22]:

    I would say so. And I’m sure Andy feels the same. Uh, we’re not making much money here, even though we’re employed. We’re doing it for the goodness of our hearts and because we’re happy to be here.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:15:34]:


    Andy [00:15:35]:

    And for me, the first four years I was here as a volunteer, the biggest difference is that when you’re retired, you do what you want to know. No one’s telling you. Go to the zoo twice a week. I spend an afternoon every week mentoring low income kids in Santa Barbara on how to get into college.

    Pete [00:15:56]:


    Andy [00:15:57]:

    How to interview, how to write a resume. Tomorrow I have a two hour workshop on resumes and cover letters, and I’ve been doing that for most of the time, I’ve been here about eight. You know, the other day we just started a new session, and one of the new coaches was a kid I coached seven years ago.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:18]:

    Oh, my gosh.

    Andy [00:16:19]:

    Salvador showed up, and he’s just great kid, and it’s affirming.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:27]:

    I can imagine that moment. He did it.

    Andy [00:16:31]:

    He’s now an EMT in carpenteria, and he had a lot of challenges in high school. His parents had very little money, and he had to work driving a truck ever since he was 16. Now he’s a leadership career coach for other kids.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:48]:


    Andy [00:16:49]:

    It’s one of my favorite things to do.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:52]:

    So, Pete, did you have a plan for retirement, and if so, have you been able to stick to that, or were there some bumps along the way?

    Pete [00:17:01]:

    Well, there’s always bumps and unexpected expenses. But, yes, I had a plan, and I’ve been investing with my financial advisor for many years. And sometimes you don’t want to do it, but you just got to force yourself to do it, and you got to discipline yourself to put money aside for the future. Because I didn’t have a pension. I only have what I excess funds I made and was reinvesting.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:22]:

    Yeah. And what about in terms of the. We always talk about the financials, almost like, without that, it’s going to be pretty hard to do what you want to do. So that’s a must. But as far as the social aspect of retirement, did you have a plan for, did you feel like you lost your identity a little bit when you left your job?

    Pete [00:17:43]:

    Sure. I mean, I’ve been there for 41 years. People knew where to find me and where my office was and pop in to see me overnight, I was gone. And I don’t miss that, though. I still am in contact with a lot of people. I’m in a lot of groups around town. I stay busy. But, yeah, sure, there was some identity loss.

    Pete [00:18:03]:

    Sure. I would agree with that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:05]:

    How did you get it back? By finding new pursuits.

    Pete [00:18:08]:

    Well, even coming here to the zoo, you’d be surprised with the number of people that come by and get on this train that I know. Or come and say hello or maybe come to the zoo, because we’re here driving. So it’s a lot of fun, and I don’t have any regrets. 41 years was enough. I retired at age 67.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:28]:


    Pete [00:18:28]:

    I wasn’t quite 70 yet, so I’m going into my second year with it, and I’m enjoying it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:35]:

    Yeah. Okay, Andy, what about you? Did you have a plan?

    Andy [00:18:38]:

    So, Rand was part of my plan. I was sort of the glide path to retirement. I worked for CIA. I retired when I was 57. I worked a year or year and a half longer than I had to. We retire with a full pension at 55 and a half or so.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:58]:

    We were talking about the FBI. And is it the same? The CI.

    Andy [00:19:01]:

    No, FBI is more generous. Oh, they are, yeah. FBI is like a police force where you can retire at 20. I think their percentage of their high income is higher than ours. Mine is very generous. I’m very happy with the government every month when I get my check. My wife worked for the government for 20 years. She retired early, so her pension and my pension is.

    Andy [00:19:25]:

    Santa Barbara is maybe the most expensive place to live in. I don’t know, in earth.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:19:30]:

    It’s way up there.

    Andy [00:19:32]:

    It’s pretty expensive. But you make some sacrifices. In terms of planning, though, I think money, you’re of. It’s the basis of everything. You can’t do anything if you haven’t invested wisely. But I knew going into retirement, I had to figure out what to do. I had to do something. I’m pretty.

    Andy [00:19:53]:

    Not hyper, but I’m pretty active. I bought a bike. I joined a gym. I try and maintain my svelte figure of well over 240 pounds. And I’m out of the house constantly, taking the dog to the beach, volunteering. I shop for old people.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:20:14]:

    Oh, that’s one of your other volunteers.

    Andy [00:20:16]:

    Right. I take elderly people to the hospital or to the doctor or go to Trader Joe’s with them, usually once or twice a week. But you have to do something. I warn people who are ready to retire. First of all, don’t just go back to the same old grind just for more money in the private sector. I could have done that. I interviewed with a couple of Beltway bandits after I retired. Those are high tech companies who sort of serve important roles with the government, but they’re making money off the government.

    Andy [00:20:50]:

    And I realized immediately I did not want to do that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:20:52]:


    Andy [00:20:53]:

    So moving to California made that impossible. And five years since I retired from Rand, I haven’t been bored for a minute. But I really have, like Pete said, have regretted not any part of that decision.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:08]:

    Yeah, we kind of look at it as there’s a few phases, the accumulation phase while you’re working, and then. I don’t know. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it almost sounded like Rand was this middle retirement gray zone where you’re downshifting a bit, and then into retirement where you can actually spend some of all the money you work.

    Andy [00:21:28]:

    No, that’s exactly right. I mean, Rand, it was a great place to do similar work and maintain my clearances and also my contacts in the government. I went to conferences and did work for some of the people I used to know, but also from a distance. Again, I wasn’t in charge of anything.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:50]:


    Andy [00:21:51]:

    The only thing I was responsible for was my pencil.

    Pete [00:21:56]:

    There’s one or two California condors silhouetted against the sky up there. Believe it or not, this is the largest bird in North America. And when fully grown, it’s going to be over 4ft tall. It’s going to weigh in excess of 25 pounds, and it’s going to have a remarkable wigspan of nine and a half feet.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:13]:

    A little bit of a transition here. But, Pete, I wanted to hear the story about the condors. You got in trouble a little bit here.

    Pete [00:22:21]:

    Yes. My first month here, I’m just being honest. I’m talking about the condors. And at the end of my talk, I said, they’re not the most attractive bird. And I got back to the station and I got greeted by my supervisor. He said, I heard you said this, and I wanted to tell you right here and now that cannot be said again. So I was kind of reprimanded and I learned my lesson. Every animal in this zoo is beautiful, right?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:45]:

    And when I heard you on the tour today, you called it a vulture, which is true. But you kind of said it with a little more.

    Pete [00:22:50]:

    Well, they are a vulture, and they only eat what is dead. That’s what I have to say about that.

    Andy [00:22:55]:

    But it’s pretty funny. I tell all the new drivers that the audience for their talk is not just the kids on the train. So you have to be careful. People are listening. And once I was driving the train, I was doing the talk on the giraffes, and I said something I just completely made. Said, you know, adia is our younger female. She’s pretty small, but maybe she’ll grow a little bit more. And I got back to the station, the radio is cackling.

    Andy [00:23:25]:

    Oh, no, it’s the giraffe keeper. She said, andy. I said, hello, ariel. And she said, andy, I was listening to you. Where did you get that information from? And I said, I made it up. And she said, please don’t make information up about my animals. Okay, ma’am. I will never do that.

    Pete [00:23:43]:

    So they’re watching us here?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:23:44]:

    Yeah, like a giraffe.

    Andy [00:23:47]:

    I guess we had a crooked giraffe neck for a long time here. Jemina, really. She had a birth defect, so she had a really bad crick in her neck. And she died ten years ago. And people almost every day ask me, where’s the crooked neck?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:07]:


    Andy [00:24:08]:

    We have a mold of her skeleton. Her neck in the.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:13]:


    Andy [00:24:14]:

    Yeah, you can see it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:15]:

    Would you say any of the animals here are retirees? Maybe the gibbons.

    Pete [00:24:20]:

    They’re getting close. The average lifespan of a gibbon is 50 and these two are over 40.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:25]:

    Over 40?

    Andy [00:24:26]:

    You refer to them as senior students.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:27]:

    Seniors. Okay. And there were a couple of bachelors. I forget which animal those are.

    Pete [00:24:31]:

    The gorillas.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:32]:

    Okay. They’re too old to stay with mom, too young to be on their own.

    Pete [00:24:36]:

    And so we have a pair of bachelor brothers residing here at the zoo.

    Andy [00:24:40]:

    It’s a bachelor zoo, to tell you the truth. The older one needs a girlfriend.

    Pete [00:24:44]:

    Really, they’re just having a hard time. 25 hard time finding one here at a local zoo or a compatible mate for him.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:24:52]:

    Okay, well, speaking of you, we’ll start with you, Pete. Have you found retirement has given you more limitations or less?

    Pete [00:25:01]:

    Less limitations. I’m enjoying life. I bought a motorhome and I intend to drive across the United States and take two months off from here at the zoo. And I’m really looking forward to that trip with my wife.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:11]:

    What states are you going to see?

    Pete [00:25:13]:

    We’re going to primarily stay in the south, but we’re going to make our way from Santa Barbara all the way to Florida and up to Washington, DC and into South Carolina and Tennessee and Omaha and Denver and Boise on our way home. So we’re going to hit quite a few states.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:28]:

    And how many siblings are you going to hit?

    Pete [00:25:30]:

    Maybe seven out of the ten, because I can’t drive that thing to Hawaii.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:33]:

    Right. Oh, one of them lives in Hawaii. That’s right. Okay. And, Andy, what about you? More or less limitations for sure.

    Andy [00:25:40]:

    Less. The coincidence worked in my favor when I retired and we were moving back here. I got a phone call when I was at the airport from one of my brothers that my mom had fallen and she had broken her ankle and she was 86 at the time and not doing all that well. We knew we were going to have to find a place for her to live. So I immediately started looking in Santa Barbara and moved her into a memory care facility a mile away from my house. So I spent the first. She lived for five years in the memory care and had a really great time in Santa Barbara. She got to know my dog.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:19]:

    Oh, wow.

    Andy [00:26:20]:

    It was perfect timing. So she could come to my house for dinner once a week and I had lunch with her almost every day that I wasn’t in Santa Monica and that I would never have been able to do had I stayed in Washington. In that stress inducing mean, I do what I want. I work as many hours on the train as I need to. Occasionally they’ll ask me to work a couple of extra shifts, and I will reluctantly say yes, but I limit myself. I don’t have external limitations.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:55]:

    We’ve had a couple of people on the show who use the term unretirement. They say I’m unretired, meaning, which is kind of what you had said, that you still do a lot of things, but you say no more. When it’s something you don’t want to do, you don’t do it right.

    Pete [00:27:11]:

    Just don’t have time for it.

    Andy [00:27:12]:

    I feel funny sometimes when people ask me and I tell them I’m retired because I’m pretty busy every day. I’m running around. I do a lot of stuff. I don’t have a job right. Other than this one.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:27]:

    It’s an odd term for someone who’s doing so much right. It’s just for lack of a better term, I guess.

    Andy [00:27:32]:

    Maybe when I get to Pete’s age, I’ll slow down a bit.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:34]:


    Pete [00:27:35]:

    Two more years?

    Andy [00:27:36]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:37]:

    Okay. So would you say if you had to say, why should other retirees who want to be as happy as you, what should they do?

    Andy [00:27:47]:

    Well, first of all, I would say we are just both really happy people.

    Pete [00:27:51]:

    I would agree with that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:52]:

    Generally, you’ve always been happy?

    Pete [00:27:53]:

    Well, I’m lucky to have any friends.

    Andy [00:27:59]:

    Planning money. It sounds sort of crass, but people who say money doesn’t buy happiness. Sorry. As a retirees, money buys a lot. We wouldn’t be here in Santa Barbara had we not been pretty scrupulous about saving and putting money away. I mean, the pension is great, but we couldn’t live here on a pension, right? That was all we had. So money is important and having interests and curiosity and a sense of adventure. I’m lucky.

    Andy [00:28:38]:

    I have a partner who, she’s followed me ever since college, and I followed her, and we know each other pretty well. We both have family very close, and I’ve reconnected with both of my brothers that come down and mooch off me pretty often during the year and enjoy Santa Barbara. I’m sure they’re looking for also a very good cook.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:03]:

    Wait, you are or.

    Andy [00:29:04]:

    I am. Wow. And they are very good eaters. And it’s a joy to have my family come and just scarf.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:13]:

    That’s a joy for you, too.

    Andy [00:29:14]:

    It is. I love to cook for big, enthusiastic eaters.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:20]:


    Andy [00:29:20]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:21]:

    Pete, have you eaten? Andy’s cooking?

    Pete [00:29:23]:

    Not yet, but the day is coming soon because we’re going to have a Christmas party at my house and he’s going to bring a.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:29]:

    You’ll have. We’ll have to report back once you’ve tasted the.

    Pete [00:29:32]:

    And, Ryan, I just like to know, you just have to stay busy in your retirement, enjoy yourself. If you’re going to just sit around and mope around the house, it’s going to be a lousy retirement. Keep yourself busy and focused on things that are near and dear to you and stay in touch with friends. It’s going to be a great remainder of your life. And that’s why I’m looking forward to this motorhome trip. I’ve never taken two months off before and I’m going to have a great time.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:56]:

    Never? You’ve never done.

    Pete [00:29:57]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:58]:

    Wow. Okay. See, this is going to be a big one. Sure. Yeah. A lot of people that we find in our research, the unhappy retirees seem to think, well, just not working means I’m going to be happy. And that doesn’t seem to.

    Pete [00:30:13]:

    I wouldn’t agree with that.

    Andy [00:30:14]:

    The opposite of that may be true.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:16]:


    Andy [00:30:16]:

    Doing nothing would make me really unhappy.

    Pete [00:30:18]:

    Yeah. Imagine I stay busy and focused, and I have a wide variety of interests. I’m trying to dabble in all of them.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:26]:

    Yeah. In fact, you have to hurry out of here at some point because you have a softball game.

    Pete [00:30:30]:

    A softball game. And I got other things to do. I’ve got to run a crap table in two nights at the carriage museum for another event.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:37]:

    Really? Sure.

    Pete [00:30:38]:

    I’d stay busy. That’s the Los Rancheros pro brace.

    Andy [00:30:41]:

    He is a big deal in the community, too. He knows everyone.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:45]:


    Andy [00:30:45]:

    He’s got his fingers in every single.

    Pete [00:30:48]:

    And I’m happy here because I’m incognito here.

    Andy [00:30:50]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:50]:

    Oh, at the zoo?

    Pete [00:30:51]:

    Yeah. None of the kids know me, so.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:53]:

    The adults know you, but the kids, you can go under the you.

    Andy [00:30:58]:

    I’ve actually run into kids in town. I’m shopping and I noticed a couple of our regulars and they were like, mommy, mommy, mommy. It’s Andy, the train driver. They were so excited and they recognized me without my overalls on.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:16]:


    Andy [00:31:16]:

    It was pretty cute.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:17]:

    Yeah. Just so the listeners know, you’re wearing train conductor outfits. Yeah. And you said, when we were talking about them earlier, I think you, Addie said, I mean, they’re ridiculous. But my first thought when I saw them was, I wonder if I can get a pair of those.

    Andy [00:31:32]:

    So I wore these every day of college at cal.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:35]:


    Andy [00:31:36]:

    45 years ago.

    Pete [00:31:37]:

    Oh, wow.

    Andy [00:31:38]:

    I bought them at the army surplus store. They were super comfortable. I had hiking boots. I was a forester. And now I get to wear them for work.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:47]:

    Right. It’s full circle. You came back.

    Andy [00:31:49]:

    I mean, the first day I wore them, I thought, what a goober I am. Until I realized I’m not a goober. I’m the train driver.

    Pete [00:31:59]:

    This pathway coming up to our right will lead you to a family of otters. They’re an awful lot of fun to watch swimming around in their pool. If you haven’t visited them yet, you otter. Let’s hope they don’t escape their enclosure. Otherwise it could be otter chaos.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:14]:

    Pete, you had a situation where the train was supposed to leave at 430, but you left at 429.

    Pete [00:32:20]:

    Yes, and I learned my lesson. 430 means 430. I had a mom and her daughter get pretty upset with me because the train left 1 minute early.

    Andy [00:32:28]:

    And the power of yelp.

    Pete [00:32:30]:

    That won’t happen again.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:31]:

    Yeah. Wow. That is some pressure. I didn’t know there’d be that much pressure.

    Pete [00:32:35]:

    It’s true.

    Andy [00:32:37]:

    Actually, the customer relations part about this job is huge. I mean, just making people happy. And out of every thousand people we give a ride to on the weekend, there are two unhappy people. No matter what you do, right, you can give the best train ride. The giraffe can come and lick their face, and they will still be unhappy people. And some of them will write a bad Yelp review.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:03]:

    You can’t let go. Yeah, there’s always going to be that.

    Andy [00:33:06]:

    Always bad.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:07]:

    I can say from personal experience you’re both fantastic train operators.

    Andy [00:33:11]:

    We are. I think we.

    Pete [00:33:12]:

    Ryan? Yeah. We think highly of ourselves, too.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:17]:

    Well, guys, there’s anything else you want to add about happiness and retirement or.

    Pete [00:33:21]:

    Anything, we pretty much covered it all. We’d like to thank you for taking the time to come up and visit with us today here in Santa Barbara. Of course, we invite anybody who’s listening to come visit us at the Santa Barbara zoo, driving the train. And if you have any questions for us or ask us about our retirement, we’ll be happy to bore you, as.

    Andy [00:33:40]:

    They say on the train. All aboard.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:42]:

    And I think if you come, Pete said he’ll pay for your entrance fee no matter how many of you.

    Andy [00:33:47]:


    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:49]:

    Yeah. All right, guys, well, thank you for being on the happiest Retirees podcast. It’s been a real pleasure.

    Andy [00:33:54]:

    You’re welcome.

    Pete [00:33:55]:

    And the zoo also has two anteaters here at the zoo. And you know why our anteaters never, ever get sick? Why? It’s because they’re full of antibodies. And on behalf of the Santa Barbara zoo, we’d like to thank you for riding along with us. Hope you come back and visit with us again soon and have a super remainder of your day.

Call in with your financial questions for our team to answer: 800-805-6301

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